Tag Archives: NBA Finals

Emil Guillermo: #Warriors win it all. Called it in 6. Just a feeling from a long-suffering fan.

On Sunday, I wrote about the Warriors and LeBron going 1 v. 5 in my post at Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.  As a long suffering Warriors fan (yes, I don’t get to play; I just get to experience the team emotionally),  I can remember all the years of frustration before and after 1975, that magical year when the Warriors changed basketball.

The Dubs swept the Washington Bullets four games to none behind  a crackerjack scorer and underhand free-throw champ, Rick Barry. And they had a starting center, Clifford Ray,  just 6-foot-9.

The team was led by Coach Al Attles, who was seen as a revolutionary for USING HIS BENCH.

Imagine that.  In those days, a sixth man was often the only replacement of any starters. The  rest? They were just ball boys. The rotation rarely went above the top 6.

Attles changed things with a deep bench that others couldn’t match.

The Bullets had the starting stars. Guard Phil Chenier. Center Wes Unself. Forward Elvin Hayes.  Bonafide stars.

But the Warriors out-teamed them and won  by a single point 96-95 on May 25, 1975 for the unimaginable four game sweep.

I was fortunate to cover the Warriors when they visited the Boston Garden earlier that year, when I interviewed Barry and announcer Bill King at courtside.

When the team  won later that season, I was just a fan. And reconnected to my junior high school days when I  would go see Wilt Chamberlin and Nate Thurmond at my favorite venue, the very intimate SF Civic Auditorium (now the Bill Graham Auditorium).

Yes, they played basketball there.

In 1975, I had my own victory parade in Cambridge, Mass. for the Warriors. Most people thought I was crazy. But I knew I had to make it last.

Forty years later,  back on June 4, I predicted this again. And again the  Warriors were playing ball in a new way. It was a game-changing style  like Attles’ approach 40 years ago. Only quicker, faster, smaller.  Beyond the deep bench, the Warriors chopped the big men down to size.  Harrison Barnes was often  the tallest small at 6-8. Iguodala, the Finals MVP, is 6-6.  Stephen Curry, the regular season MVP, is just 6-3.  Draymond Green,  6-foot-7.

Not  a seven-footer in sight.

Nor a seventh game.

Just a championship parade.

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Emil Guillermo: Too bad Chris Heston’s No-hitter comes during those NBA Finals–Warriors should be playing so well.

There’s an attitude in the Warriors that is so super cool, and nonchalant. It’s hipster basketball. They’re good. They know it.  And throughout the season, most people have given them the space to do their thing. But now in the compressed space of a 7-game series, every loose ball becomes a challenge point. But the Warriors stop, the Cavs keep going.  That’s the margin for champions.

Solution: Show up Warriors, at the start. Don’t be too cool for the room. Get hot. You can’t take three quarters to heat up like grandpa’s hot plate. Start with a boil. Go amok. Otherwise, let fans know you’re not in it, so we can start paying attention to the Giants.

There’s still time. But  you don’t show up to a brawl with LeBron James and expect to be able to finesse your way to victory.

They show up with a sledge hammer and dynamite. The Dubs show up with a Swiss army knife and the flashlight on their iPhones.

Ah, but those Giants.

Chris Heston showed up on Tuesday. I’d like to see LeBron James hit his curve ball. The Metropolitans played like Podunkers.  And the Giants gave their pitcher support. Joe Panik showed his “home” fans his stuff and solidifies the notion that he’s the guy at Second Base.  This night it was his bat. The World Series showed us his glove.  But thank god for Heston. In a season where the vets are rocky, hurt, or recovering, Madbum is still the guy. But Heston.  The no-hitter puts him up their with Charlton. He could  be their rookie Moses to help lead the Giants to baseball’s October promised land.

Get to know Heston:

He really is nicknamed “Hesto Presto.”

heston

 

Emil Guillermo: The Golden State Warrior blews; Dubs need to TCB or they will lose NBA Finals

Analyst Michael Wilbon said it after the game. The Warriors just “goof” around too much, and play in a “loosey-goosey” way. I’ve noticed that for some time. They have this cool, nonchalance, a devil-may-care way about them that transforms high-percentage plays into risky ones and inevitably leads to turnover, after turnover. Dunks? Alley-oops? Fails. Some successes. But on Sunday, fails. And when you shoot terribly to boot, forget about winning game 2 against  LeBron James.

Everyone can see LeBron James is the best player on the court,  period.  He cheats with his physicality and bullies his way to the hoop. But he made Game 2 a bit more about team, and the Cavs found their way to beat the Warriors. Put tall defenders at the three point line.  Get Dellavadova to mark Curry like a soccer player.  Get Mozgov involved inside to beat Bogut at the basket and on the line. And then let LeBron invoke his will and distribute.

The downfall to that strategy will be fatigue. The Cavs aren’t that deep. The every other day schedule could limit them.

Warriors should be able to counter easily to steal back home court advantage.

But as we’ve seen the first two games, they are prone to slow starts and a lack of intensity. If they play to their season best, they’d be 2-0 now. The pressure really is on Barnes, Speights, and Livingston to pick up when Curry isn’t showing up. The bench strength is the X factor.

But overall, the Dubs need to start caring about the ball like men on a mission.

They’re just too loose for their own good. They get sloppy. And loose leads to loss.

If they don’t tighten things up, LeBron will make them pay.

Emil Guillermo: Golden State Warriors should end long Bay Area basketball drought

Oh, those Warriors. In 1975, I was leaving Cambridge, MA on my way to Houston, TX for my first professional radio gig–$3 bucks/hr., six hours a week. I’d play records, do the newscasts (it was a music station, so it dumped most of their news commitment on the overnight).

Et voila– Emil For Real was born.

But before I left Cambridge, I was enjoying the Warriors demolish the Washington Bullets to win the NBA Championship.

I was so excited. As a small boy, I remember dragging my dad to the old Civic Auditorium (yes, the same place where SF school kids used to graduate) to see the old San Francisco Warriors play. There was Wilt. Then Nate Thurmond.

And Rick Barry, of underhand fame.

rickbarry

 

And now here they were in the 70s.

Earlier that year, I met  Barry and Bill King, the Warrior announcer,  in the Boston Garden. And I just couldn’t believe they could be good enough until June.

When they were, I did what I almost never do.

I wanted to shout from the rooftops about the Warriors!

So I called a sports talk show in Boston to gleam and gloat about “my” Warriors.

It’s been 40 long years since the team has been back in the finals.

And now longsuffering Warrior fans have their shot again.

This is the team to do it.

Same kind of team as the one 40 years ago. One big star. No real big center. Good bench. A real team.

Back then, teams would rotate at best seven core players. Five starters and maybe two off the bench.

At the time, Warrior coach Al Attles was heralded with being the best to get production from the entire team off the bench.

No one ever played that style before.

Now here’s Steve Kerr refining the matchup style, where small can be big by playing with speed and a swarming sense of defense. He also has the league MVP, Steph Curry, who has not quite erased the memory of the great Rick Barry from the minds of older Warrior fans (though to younger Warrior fans, Rick is barely a memory, with newer Barry’s John and Brent maintaining the brand).

After the Grizz and the Rockets, I think the Warriors are battle-tested and ready to show what champions they truly are.

LeBron James is a great player. But we know how basketball is about team and not individual greatness.

The Warriors as a team will defeat Cleveland in 6 to cap off a brilliant year.

 

NBA Finals: Mavs beat Heat, as James/Wade “Dream Combo” fizzles

I worked in Dallas when the Mavs got their start.  My office in the old Union Station was across the street from the brand new Reunion Arena, and I was there to cover the very first game.

So of course, in these finals, I had a soft spot for the 2011 Mavs with Cuban as their owner, BayArea guy Jason Kidd at the point, and Dirk Nowitzki as their superstar.

If only the Miami Heat had a star of that quality. They certainly didn’t have a team that knew how to win when it mattered.

A lot was made of the Heat this year, what with the pre-fab superstar roster of James, Wade and Bosh. At some point, we all realized there was no Big 3 (Bosh is a nice player, but that’s all). And the Big 2? They didn’t know how to play together as solo superstars. Their idea of team work? Lay back and let the others do their thing.

I feel sad for both James and Wade. Had they not meddled and tried to put together their concept of a “dream team,” they would have had a better chance at winning a championship for themselves staying put.  Certainly James in Cleveland as a  solo super-star with an OK supporting staff could have beaten the Mavs.  Mostly because James would have had to really play all the time.

Unfortunately, James lacks the maturity and know-how to play in a system where he is a part of a team. He has to be the dominant guy. He should have stayed in Cleveland.  Same thing for Wade. They didn’t know how to be supporting super stars. They need to be the principals–on separate teams. 

That’s how the NBA works best.  Especially if the game is still played with one ball. 

I also feel sorry for Eric Spoelstra, the first Filipino American NBA head coach ever. That the Heat didn’t have it isn’t his fault. Let’s hope he doesn’t get scapegoated for the failed chemistry of LeBron/Wade and anyone else.  That’s a failed alchemy.